Over the past two weeks I have been writing about carbohydrates, and just what’s so bad about them. Week one was about grains, last week vegetables, and this week it’s all about fruit.
Fruit is delicious! It’s naturally sweet, most of the time. It is naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories. Fruits contain many essential nutrients that are often under consumed, including potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C, and folate (folic acid). And just like raw veggies, fruit is another one of nature’s fast foods. But, just what’s so great about it, and what does it do for us?
Let’s take a look at some of those ingrown added benefits!
Potassium may help to maintain healthy blood pressure, help to decrease bone loss, and support against kidney stones. Fruit sources of potassium include bananas, prunes, dried peaches and apricots, cantaloupe and honeydew melon.
Fibre is also naturally found in fruit, and is part of a healthy diet. Fibre can reduce blood cholesterol levels, lower the risk of heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes. It also is important for proper bowel function, as it helps reduce constipation. The fibre in fruits helps provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories. A recommended dietary consumption of fibre is 35grams/day. Most people consume about 10-15grams/day. Please remember, that is not just from fruit, but from ALL whole food plant life.
Vitamin C is important for growth and repair of all body tissues, helps heal cuts and wounds, and keeps teeth and gums healthy.
Folate (folic acid) helps the body form red blood cells. Women of childbearing age who may become pregnant should consume adequate folate from foods, as this reduces the risk of neural tube defects, spina bifida during fetal development.
There is so much goodness in fruit, but just like anything else, too much of it can do you wrong. So, where does fruit consumption go wrong?
When weight loss is a goal you are striving for, I recommend eating no more than 2-3 servings/day. We have to remember that fruit is a simple sugar, so digests easier than complex sugars. Please make sure you consume the skin whenever possible. That is where a high percentage of the fibre is. This is the good stuff that helps you feel full longer, and regulates your bowels. Commercially canned fruits are another area to be mindful of. These are often packaged in fruit juices (some add syrup) which brings the sugar content higher. Dried fruits naturally have a higher sugar content as well, so please be mindful. And sorry but, fruit juice is pure sugar. One 8oz glass of this can be up to 25grams of sugar. There’s not chewing required. There’s no fibre to slow down digestion. It’s a straight shot of sugar into your body. This needs to be avoided as much as possible.
When “fresh” fruit is out of season the nutrients are naturally less. Eating fruits when locally grown is always a high priority. Coming fresh off the plant is so much better for you than opting for produce from far away. Let’s face it, a strawberry that is flown or driven to Ontario from California often doesn’t even taste or have the same texture of a fresh strawberry. Buy local! It’s better for you, and it supports your local farmers! I do totally understand how desiring some berries in the dead of winter can be tough craving to satisfy. In these times I recommend buying frozen produce. This is picked, flash frozen and packaged, so likely the nutritional value is still there. These are great for smoothies and mixed with yogurt.
Go eat your fruit! Replace most of your sweet snacks with it, because as you can see, it has a whole lot of goodness in it for you!